April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In this edition of Inspired 101 News, you will find 7 tips from my list of 101 Things You Can Do To Prevent Child Abuse, starting with #8. Although written with the idea of prevention, I think you'll find them useful in situations where some calm and perspective can go a long way.
8. Feel you're losing it? ...Go for a walk.
Your response to a situation is ultimately under your control. You have options. A walk, if your children are safe, can clear your head, release some physical energy, and help you recognize alternatives. If you can't leave your home, release some energy by cleaning something or just stepping outside for some fresh air and some deep breathing. You can take a time-out, too, and in the process you demonstrate thoughtful action.
9. ...Take a bath. Let a hot bath or shower relax your body, deepen your breathing, slow your heart rate, and help you calm down. Visualize in detail one of your most cherished moments. Allow yourself to decompress. Don't take your bad day out on your child. 10. ...Call a friend. Defuse the situation. Talk out what you're feeling with someone who will listen and help you gain composure. Even if, in the moment, you're not ready to talk about the issue—reach out. It can help to know someone is there who cares.
Idea! Keep a list of emergency numbers where you might need them: at home in a designated place, in your wallet, and in your cell phone.
11. ...Call a hotline. Hotlines were created to provide answers or assistance when they are needed most. Some have counselors available. There are many 24-hour national hotline numbers; three are listed below. Help can be a phone call away. 800-799-7233 Domestic Violence (Child/Family)
800-273-8255 Suicide Prevention (Emotional distress) 800-448-3000 Boys Town (Any problem, any time)
Before an emergency, get familiar with your local phone book. Locate and flag pages that may be titled: Community Services, Human Services, Helplines, Hotlines, Important Numbers, or Emergency Pages. In a time of need, you'll be glad you did. See the Idea after #14.
During an emergency, if you call for help and get a recording, don't give up! Leave a message or hang up, wait a few seconds and call again, or try another hotline. It's okay to reach out to others—even strangers in an emergency. Your best friend was once a stranger to you.
After an emergency, review the crisis: how it unfolded, how it was handled, and what would help should the situation be repeated. Revise your lists accordingly.
12. ...Count to 10 slowly, Repeat. Calm yourself down. Count your blessings, pausing to picture each one, or simply count to 10 slowly and mindfully. Focus on each number. See the number fade in and then out knowing that, by the time you get to 10, you will be more at ease and able to respond in the best way to this situation. Repeat as needed. 13. ...Step away from your child. If you are prone to react in a physically harmful way, then make your immediate action to move away from your child. Take a few steps back or, if your child is safe, leave the room and collect yourself. Your reaction may be a habit, and you can learn new habits that lead to more positive interaction.
14. ...Stop. Take 3 slow, deep breaths. Repeat. No doubt your heart is racing and you are taking in shorter breaths. You can change your physical response right now. Take in a huge deep breath and then let it out slowly. Your first attempt may feel awkward and likely won't have much effect so take in a second slow deep breath. Hold it for a couple beats then release slowly. Make the third one even slower and deeper. Repeat this process until you feel calmer. Close your eyes, turn away, leave the room. Do what you can to help this technique work—because it will work—and it may give you a better chance at being more appropriate and effective in your response.
Idea! When you're not in a crisis, create a personal top 10 list for calming down, for reaching out, for inspiration, or for advice. Include a hotline number. Ask a friend or two to be part of your support system and add them to your list. Consider identifying those people that you trust, that help you feel strong, or simply make you laugh. Include some affirmations that help you remember your strength and your ability.
Give yourself some options. Keep this list where you can find it in a hurry.
Adapted from Be An Inspiration! by Debbie Jenae